Recreational marijuana approved; those in minority communities get first dibs to grow


Recreational marijuana is just a signature away from being legal in Illinois.

The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (CRTA) was approved by state legislators with a vote of 66-47 and now heads to Governor JB Pritzker’s desk for a signature.

That makes Illinois the 11th state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana.

Here’s how the bill works. Cannabis products can’t be transported over state lines.  And before tax revenue is spread around, it will first cover needs and costs related to expungement or the clearing of marijuana related records.

On top of that, the state will allow towns to decide individually how cannabis-related businesses may fit into their communities, and employers may still maintain zero tolerance workplaces.

The state law will also allow landlords and business owners to still have zero tolerance policies as well.

Governor Pritzker praised the move legalizing marijuana in a statement:

“The state of Illinois just made history, legalizing adult-use cannabis with the most equity-centric approach in the nation. This will have a transformational impact on our state, creating opportunity in the communities that need it most and giving so many a second chance.”

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago also expressed enthusiasm:

“I applaud my fellow members of the Illinois House of Representatives for their historic vote today on House Bill 1438 – legislation that promises to usher in a new, smarter era of cannabis regulation in our state.”

State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine), voted against the legislation and released the following statement:

“As a lawmaker and as a father, I have grave concerns about the message this sends our children. Beyond the health concerns I have, there are also issues with public safety and workforce safety.”

Morrison said the state’s law enforcement agencies don’t support the bill.

“They are not ready for this and don’t have the capabilities to enforce this. This bill undermines our efforts to make our state safer and will put a greater burden on our social service agencies. As we’ve heard from residents of other states, Illinois is making a big mistake in failing to recognize the unintended consequences of legalization.”

State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) said it’s the wrong path:

“I am not conceptually against the idea of legalizing recreational marijuana, but I could not support the legislation as it was presented to us on Thursday.”

He said if the goal is to destroy the illegal street market and ensure a safer product while not increasing overall usage of marijuana, that they aren’t moving in the right direction.

“I believe we’re on the wrong path. By putting production and sales into the hands of companies that succeed or fail based on their ability to expand the market for their product, we are setting the stage for increased use of cannabis. A better path, in my opinion, would be to issue licenses for production and sale to non-profit entities with boards that protect public health and charters that limit their mission to meeting existing demand.”

Who Gets To Grow and Sell Marijuana In Illinois?

To start, only the 20 existing licensed medical marijuana grow facilities will be allowed to grow it. But next year, craft growers will be allowed to apply for licenses that would allow them to cultivate up to 5,000 square feet.

Who gets preference on applications?

Those from “minority areas disproportionately affected by the war on drugs, such as the South and West sides of Chicago”.

In order to sell it, medical marijuana dispensaries and new retail stores will be licensed. 

Medical cannabis patients will be allowed to each grow up to five plants each at home.

Who Can Buy It?

If you’re an Illinoi resident age 21 and over, you’ll be allowed to possess up to 30 grams or one ounce of flower – that’s about as much as an adult can hold in cupped hands.

You’ll also be allowed 5 grams of cannabis concentrate or 500 milligrams of THC (that’s the chemical that gets you high) in a cannabis-infused product like candy, tinctures or lotions.

If you’re an adult visitor to the state, you can have up to 15 grams of marijuana.

Who Can Ban It?

Towns, cities and counties can ban cannabis businesses within their boundaries under the law, but they can’t ban individual possession.

Any person, business or landlord, along with colleges and universities, can continue to prohibit marijuana use.

Where Is It Prohibited?

Under the new law, it’s not allowed in any public place like on the street or in a park, on school grounds (except for medical users), in any motor vehicle, in a correctional facility, near someone under 21, while driving a boat or flying a plane, or by a school bus driver, police, fire or corrections officer while on duty.

What Does It Do To Criminal Records?

The governor is going to pardon past convictions for possession of up to 30 grams, with the attorney general going to court to expunge or delete public records of a conviction or arrest.

As far as possession of 30 to 500 grams, an individual or a state’s attorney may petition the court to vacate and expunge the conviction, but prosecutors may object, ultimately letting a judge make the decision.


Sales of marijuana will be taxed at 10 percent for THC levels at or less than 35 percent; 20 percent for cannabis-infused products such as edibles; and 25 percent for THC concentrations of more than 35%.

That’s on top of standard state and local sales taxes.

Municipalities can add special taxes of up to 3%, counties can add up to 3.75% in unincorporated areas, and Cook County may add up to 3% in municipalities.


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